Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dwarf dandelion flower head opening

with 24 comments


Dwarf Dandelion Flower Head Opening 1746

UPDATE: Soon after this post was published in 2012, Sue Wiseman alerted me to the fact that the picture originally shown here wasn’t really a dwarf dandelion at all, but Hedypnois cretica, an increasingly common European invasive, referred to descriptively based on its origin and botanical family as a Cretan composite. I’ve replaced that photograph with one I took of an actual dwarf dandelion on a field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr on April 27, 2014. There’s nothing like having an expert with you to identify plants.

I suspect that even in areas where these little flowers are common, many people are unaware of dwarf dandelions, which botanists place in the genus Krigia (this one being K. oppositifolia). As John and Gloria Tveten write in Wildflowers of Houston: “While these tiny plants do not attract attention when alone, they frequently form large, showy colonies that blanket sandy fields or roadsides.”

© 2012, 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2012 at 5:24 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Wow… This really is a gorgeous picture. The colors are sublime — as is its impending opening. Go little dandelion!


    April 19, 2012 at 5:59 AM

  2. Hi, I adore your pictures, including this one.
    I’m fascinated by dandelions (don’t ask me why) although we don’t get the dwarf ones.
    I’m particularly fascinated by the part where they flower, then close up overnight, and open the next day as dandelion clocks.
    I think this one, rather than opening for the first time, might be doing the closing up before the clock grand opening. What do you think?
    Can you go back to the exact same flower today and see if it turned into a clock? 🙂


    April 19, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    • You can tell from what I wrote that I wasn’t sure about the opening: there seemed to be a lot of ray tips showing for something that was just opening for the first time. As you suggest, the flower head could have opened, closed, and at this stage been ready to open again. Unfortunately this picture was from a month ago, so I can’t go back to check out this specific plant. My impression is that each flower head lasts only a few days.

      Now, when you say “dandelion clock,” I’m guessing that you mean a flower head in the shape of a circle with subdivisions that could represent “hours.” Stay tuned for the next picture, and you can let us know if that’s what you meant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 8:31 AM

  3. Your last post did leave me wondering about those mini-dandelions. My exact thought: “I wonder what the individual flowers look like?” I certainly didn’t expect something as beautiful as this. The colors are so evocative of the Gaillardia – and I’m always amazed at your ability to capture detail, like the fuzziness.

    Speaking of detail, and the Gaillardia – are those three little “teeth” at the end of these petals, too?


    April 19, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    • Looks like I read your mind, or you mine. And like you, I’m fascinated by the little details that the human eye alone would have trouble seeing, which of course is why I use my 100 mm macro lens so often. So many plants have little hairs on them, and of various kinds, too.

      Yes, those are “teeth” at the tips of the ray flowers. Although I count three here, five seems to be the preferred number, as you’ll see better in the next post. A lot of species in the sunflower family have rays with teeth at their tips, like the Gaillardia that you mentioned. Whether the indentations serve any purpose, I don’t know, but they make decorative fringes for us to enjoy looking at and wondering about.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 8:44 AM

  4. For some reason, I think I would prefer Dwarf Dandelions.. it seem a tinier version of anything is so much prettier.. more delicate I guess:)

    Just A Smidgen

    April 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  5. I can imagine having a five-foot image just like this one in my house. If I were far enough away from it for the effect. I just don’t know how you keep from staring at these photographs. There is something ethereal about this.

    George Weaver

    April 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    • Ethereal is a quality I love (and one reason that I used to take a lot of photographs with black and white infrared film). A five-foot version of this tiny flower would be something, all right.

      Because I have so many nature photographs, I’ve set a couple of thousand of them to come up randomly as a slide show when my computer is inactive for a certain amount of time. The pictures remind me of some of the things I’ve seen and photographed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 1:19 PM

  6. This is exquisite, Steve.


    April 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

  7. Superb image Steve!


    April 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

  8. Steve,

    Is this Hedypnois aka Cretan Weed? It has become very prolific this year. According to Marshall Johnston, it is an invasive that was first noted in Texas in the Corpus Christi area and has been making its way north up to our part of the world. Without so much grass and other ground cover it seems to have found a niche.


    Sue M. Wsieman

    April 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    • Thanks for bringing this up, Sue. If you’re right, then I’ll feel terrible about having shown an alien under the guise of a native. Bill Carr does have “Cretan composite” in his Travis County plant list.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 2:40 PM

  9. Fantastic photo, Steve.
    I love these macros where you can see the hairs on plants.
    I also like the soft background colour.


    April 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    • Thanks, Victoria. As I see it (in both senses), tiny details like those hairs often make for a good picture. Where possible, I go for out-of-focus backgrounds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 7:45 PM

  10. Your flower pictures never cease to amaze me!

    Michael Glover

    April 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    • And thank you, Michael. As always, I give most of the credit to nature and my macro lens. Some goes to my poor body, which has to endure all sorts of things to get as close as I sometimes do; the ground in Texas is often not very hospitable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

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